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Q & A: My Son Is Leaving Home for His First Post-College Job . . .

Question: My son Nathaniel is leaving home for his first post-college job. He won't take advice from me - about what to do now with developing the corners of his life - but I know he would respect advice directly from you in your newsletter, which he reads regularly. - Alisse

First, congratulations to you, Nathaniel, on finishing college and getting that first job! Though you may not see it as such yet, it's a big step toward covering the parts of your life we call "Career Path", and "Finances." Now that you're truly on your own, we suggest making your life more well-rounded and more balanced by getting started building a strong safety net tailored to you.

(TO MOM: It will be your demonstrating how to be ever more strong, flexible & resilient yourself (creating, having & using a Personal Safety Net) is the best way to nudge Nathaniel along.)

A clear first step for you, Nathaniel, as for everyone, is to take a look at this cool free download. (The Sides of Your Safety Net). Here you'll find we've divided the various aspects of activity in your life into eight areas: Career Path, Community, Family & Friends, Finances, Health & Wellness, Intellect, Spirit, and the Stuff of Life.

What each of us is shooting for is to put in place the stepping stones to create a path, plan of action that is adaptable to various changes or challenges.

In order to keep each of these eight parts of your life steady and functioning with strength takes forethought. And each of us will be challenged by different things or events at unexpected moments.

This is on-going project which can take some time. You need not focus on all eight areas all at once. So, get started!

Second step: Take one of these areas and list, maybe starting on a piece of paper or brainstorming by email with solid friends:

inner resources: the skills you have, ideas & attitudes you've developed, traits that "are you"
outer resources that are available - information & places (for and non-profit). Get ideas from your computer, libraries, agencies, friends, teachers, or any other reliable sources
people you know or can get to know. Those you can come to rely upon for their knowledge, help and expertise in each of these areas.

Some of the "outer resources" might be what we think of as coming from the Formal Safety Net of our society: bank loans, housing programs, government and social services. The "inner resources" and "people you know or might know" are more likely from an Informal Safety Net: where reputation, experience, community ties and friendships matter hugely.

For example: Developing and keeping your "Health & Wellness" corner stable, you, Nathaniel, might want to start by thinking about your inner resources - what attitudes do you bring to being and staying healthy? What kind of health services might you need and want, and what kind of activities to keep yourself active do you like and want? With whom do you do them? Now it's time to do some research and look at all available outer resources (reviews, social networks, organizations, friends) to see what's out there for you - and at what budget point?

Third step: When you get to this point, you'll be ready to make a plan (at least in your head) as to what you can afford, what you'll do - and what you want others to do. You'll have a better idea whom to seek out and whose advice you'd accept.

Fourth: Eventually you'll go through this process for each of the eight areas. You will build a life that is more thought out and ordered, ready for anything. This is also is a tremendous way to build community and safety - knowing you're not alone in life and that decisions can be eased by thinking ahead.

(Back to you, MOM: Alisse, even with your son out of the house, know that he'll be watching you to see how you take care of yourself. We think you'll be guiding more than you know, and he might just take notes or ask, "How'd you know to do that, mom?" - Sweet, eh?)

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